Apr 15, 2021 3 mins, 0 secs
Earlier this week, a bunch of companies gave Epic Games a big ol' pile of money -- $1 billion to be exact -- to help it accomplish its goals for the future.

This kind of thing happens a lot, both to Epic specifically and to companies in general, of course.

“We are grateful to our new and existing investors who support our vision for Epic and the Metaverse," said CEO Tim Sweeney of the funding round?

Epic Games, and more specifically Sweeney, has been talking about the metaverse for some time now, though never quite so explicitly in the form of an announcement that they've raised a billion dollars for it.

The idea of the metaverse has caught on across the tech industry over the last decade, with multiple companies seemingly in a race to make it happen?

And why does Sweeney, the head of a company that makes a video game engine and runs a battle royale game, believe Epic might be poised to make it happen.

Sweeney's point is that whatever the metaverse becomes, it will eventually break down barriers between closed systems, so that rather than having separate systems and accounts for things like Facebook, Twitter, Google, Fortnite, Call of Duty, and so forth, everything will just be interconnected and work together as one digital economy.

Outside of literal video games, a number of other major tech companies are dipping in as well.

The metaverse needs to be ubiquitous to meet its own definition, so just setting up another persistent virtual world in a video game doesn't cut it.

So no, Fortnite isn't the metaverse either.

It's not just because it's limited to 100 people per match -- Fortnite is still a battle royale video game where players do very specific things.

So while the IP crossovers and giant Travis Scott concerts and its general use as a social space are good signs, Fortnite isn't, nor will it eventually literally become, the metaverse.

But what Fortnite can be is a powerful tool, a puzzle piece, a lever to move the tech industry in the direction of the metaverse Sweeney is trying to build.

Sweeney is trying to get all the major tech companies on board with his vision of interconnectivity, a vision he outlined in detail in his DICE talk last year.

In the last decade, Fortnite has helped pioneer this vision by being among the first truly cross-platform games.

Epic also has Unreal Engine, which is used not just across games (and recently became entirely free for developers up to their first $1 million in revenue earned) but also in filmmaking, with The Mandalorian and Westworld notably using its tech.

So on PC too, Fortnite brings consumers to the Epic Games Store, and numerous other games there benefit from the traffic.

And while Sweeney has made clear that he sees gaming as a critical, unifying point for the metaverse to converge around, more than just the gaming industry has to be on board.

With gaming continuing to grow into a financial giant, Sweeney believes this will draw other industries -- for instance, a car manufacturer isn't going to just put up a bunch of static ads for their cars in a theoretical metaverse.

Sony Group Corporation president and Chairman Kenichiro Yoshida specifically called out Epic's tech capabilities in his formal statement alongside the funding round, and last year, Sony worked in close collaboration with Epic to announce Unreal 5 Engine alongside the first footage of anything running on the PS5.

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